The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) on Tuesday published a study stressing that saving and restoring Syria must be contingent on removing the Assad family and their partners from power, protecting civilians, and defeating terrorists.
The study underscored that “terrorism is a symptom, not a cause. The message Bashar al-Assad sent to the international community in the early days of the popular uprising was that the choice was for him to stay in power or the so-called “terrorists” would run the country, the study added.
“Bashar al-Assad has managed to deceive many into thinking that he is the lesser of two evils compared to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State: the original protesters were in fact not terrorists, so the regime had to manufacture a threat. Therefore, to create this self-fulfilling prophecy, in 2011 the regime released and gave amnesty to former Syrian foreign fighters, who had fought with al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State’s predecessor, from the infamous Sednaya prison in Damascus.”
“The Assad regime has manipulated and exploited terrorism to its benefit, whether exporting it abroad or incubating it locally,” the study added.
The study went on: “In the absence of democratic mechanisms, dictatorial regimes tend to form alliances with like-minded rulers in order to survive, especially when facing civil unrest at home. Therefore, the Assad regime relied on Russia and Iran to support it financially, military, and politically against all forms of domestic opponents.”
“Russia took advantage of this power vacuum to advance its own interests and change the dynamics in Syria to its favor. Likewise, Iran, with its Shia militias, and Lebanese Hezbollah agreed to offer help to Bashar al-Assad against the revolutionaries due to the regime’s poor fighting performance. This further projected a sectarian nature to the war…”
“Through a strong and honest American-Russian alliance, Iran’s arm would most likely be twisted into cooperation to halt its aggression and interference in Syria’s domestic affairs . Additionally, an American-Russian alliance under the supervision of the United Nations would facilitate disarmament and reintegration of armed groups into Syrian society to gradually contain and potentially end fragmentation, terrorism, and militant threats against civilian populations.”
The study maintained that “a fight against extremism should be a fight against the Assad regime, a U.S.-designated state sponsor and enabler of terrorism.”
“It is important to remember that the conflict in Syria became this much of a labyrinth as a result of Assad’s own policies on survival and legitimacy. The United States’ failure to act more decisively has only exacerbated the crisis both in Syria and abroad. But it is not too late to help Syria move on the correct path forward.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)